Eastern Promises – A Movie Review

I really enjoyed Viggo Mortensen in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, so when I heard they were teaming up again for Eastern Promises, I had very high expectations.

 

Eastern Promises offers a powerfully subdued yet intense performance by Viggo Mortensen as a Russian driver/enforcer working his way up London’s most notorious Russian crime family.  Mortensen has proven himself a chameleon with the roles he’s chosen of late, and I had no trouble accepting him as a merciless, cold, calculating—and oddly charming—criminal.

 

The premise of the story seems straightforward on the surface, but there are some complex developments that caught me unawares.  Essentially Naomi Watts, a hospital worker, is trying to track down relation for a baby recently born to a teenage Russian prostitute who died during labor.  All she has is a diary written in Russian, which, as fate would have it, leads her right to the door of the Russian mob and Viggo Mortensen.  Watts finds herself intertwined in an alien world, ultimately putting the baby in more danger than she ever could have realized.

 

Cronenberg delivers a compelling and utterly realistic film delving into a topic I found completely original.  I’ve never seen much involving the Russian mafia, especially one based in London, so there was nothing familiar to me about this movie.  I’m certain that’s one of the many reasons I enjoyed it so much.

 

There are moments of potent violence in Eastern Promises, but they are brief and not as frequent as you might expect.  The psychological tension is palpable in this film, and that’s what will have you on the edge of your seat more so than any bloodshed.

 

I would, however, be remiss to avoid discussing the infamous bathhouse knife fight.  Yes, Viggo Mortensen displays extreme devotion to his character by recording a scene totally nude as men attack him with knives in a bathhouse.  I suppose if you hit pause you could see everything you wanted to know about Mortensen, but it all happens so fast and the camera work is so sporadic that the viewer sees nothing more than glimpses and blurs.  I can’t imagine getting tossed around on tile floors like that without any sort of … well, you know.  Mortensen is definitely willing to take one for the team and suffer for his art.

 

Eastern Promises moved at an incredibly fast pace and the tense storyline and character-driven acting impressed me to no end.   I had high expectations for this film, and they were exceeded.

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Memo from the Department of Shameless Self-Promotion

Hi, there.  I was going to try to put this delicately, but let’s not mince words.  I need a solid.  See, I’ve got this serialized story over at Amazon.com.  It’s called Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian and it’s the first part in what will ultimately be an eighteen part series. 

I know people have been buying it, and that’s awesome.  I get to follow its sales rankings, so it’s not doing too badly, and I really appreciate everyone’s support.  But, it’s been proven that products at Amazon.com that have been rated and reviewed tend to do a little better than those that haven’t.

That’s where you come in (I hope).  If you’ve read Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian, I would appreciate it so much if you would take a minute and give it a quick review.  Just a few sentences, a short paragraph.  Heck, even if you hated it, something is better than nothing, right?  Don’t get me wrong, though, I like those positive reviews.

So, that’s the favor I’m asking of you.  I hope it’s not too much, and I really can’t offer anything more than my gratitude.  As always, your support of my dream means the world to me.

You can find Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian by clicking here, then scroll a ways down to a button that says “create your own review.”  After that, sky’s the limit.

Thanks,

Scott     

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A 2008 Sketch of Dr. Nekros from Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian

 

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This is a simple pencil drawing I did in 2008 of Dr. Nekros as I wrote Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian.  As you’ve probably noticed, it helps me quite a bit to draw my characters so that I can better envision them within my mind.  It makes them real … to me.

Don’t forget, Dr. Nekros will be a recurring character in an eighteen-part series.  If you want to get in on the ground floor, read the first episode, Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian (1 of 18).  It’s hard to believe it’s all drawing to an end.

The Death of Heath Ledger

As you’ve all probably heard by now, Heath Ledger is dead.  The reports, rumors, and speculations are running rampant, so I won’t even bother to comment on any of those until the facts come out.

I would like to say, though, that I’ve been writing about Ledger for over a year now in relation first to his being cast as the Joker in the new Batman movie, then with the still-shots of him as the Joker, then finally from the acutal Dark Knight trailer.  From the get-go, I trusted Christopher Nolan with choosing Ledger, and from that moment on, Ledger showed me he was perfect for the role.  My respect for him as an artist grew exponentially every time I saw his interpretation of one of popular culture’s most iconic visages.

I’m sure this will sound unreasonable to some, but as an artist, his portrayal of the Joker looks to be perfect, and if one must die, to die at the top of one’s art … well, there could be worse ways to leave this world.  I hope you understand what I mean by that.  I worry it may sound callous, and it’s certainly not meant to.  Artists never want to grow old feeling as though their best work is behind them, and Ledger will never feel that way.

My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans, especially his little girl.  The world lost an emerging artist, but she lost her daddy. 

The Heartbreak Kid – A Movie Review

A remake directed by the incorrigible Farrelly brothers, I really expected to like The Heartbreak Kid.  After all, it stars Ben Stiller, so we essentially have the same team who brought us There’s Something About Mary.

Unfortunately, while this movie had a few really funny visual gags, the movie as a whole disappointed and I wouldn’t recommend it.

The major problem with the film is the fact that there is not one sympathetic or identifiable character throughout.  The movie really leaves you feeling a bit scummy, and nobody wants that.

Stiller plays a devoted bachelor who jumps into marriage due to peer pressure.  His wife he dated for only a few weeks turns out to be a bit wacky, and he instantly regrets his decision.  On their honeymoon, Stiller’s new wife gets severely sunburned and has to stay indoors, at which point Stiller, while eating alone, meets another woman who he’s sure is the one for him.  He spends the rest of the movie lying to both women and acting the general sleazebag.  Of course, he eventually gets caught in his deceptions, and there is really no way to reconcile the storyline in a way that makes us feel good about things.

I don’t remember this movie doing well at the theatres, and I can see why.  While There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber were crude, the Farrelly brothers still gave us a hero-albeit flawed-to root for.  The Heartbreak Kid offers us no such character.

3:10 to Yuma – A Movie Review

While the premise of this western is fairly straightforward, it is anything but simple thanks to two actors who give us their absolute best.

Russell Crowe, playing a role he was born for, is Ben Wade, a charming, debonair, magnetic thief and murderer.  Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a dismembered Civil War veteran and small-time rancher on the verge of losing everything.  When the two men’s worlds collide, Bale has a chance at making some money if he can only get the captured Crowe on the 3:10 train to Yuma.

Though Crowe is technically the villain, you can’t help but root for him when he clashes with everyone but Bale, whose desperation to provide for his family and capture some self-respect in the process is heart breaking.  The audience can’t help but hope against hope that Bale becomes the man he so acutely wants to be.  At times it seems even Crowe’s character is rooting for Bale, thus making his role as “villain” all the more ambiguous. 

The sheer acting of these two men and the charisma they emit makes the movie speed along.  It has moments of terrible violence, light-hearted comedy, pure drama, and suspense that will make you feel as though someone is sitting on your heart. 

I completely recommend you watch this movie.  If you are a fan of westerns, Crowe, or Bale, you will not go disappointed, because 3:10 to Yuma is an example of the best of each.  If you’re a fan of none of those things, I dare you to check it out anyway, because I bet you’ll be won over by the time you’re finished.